Registration

Associations

An association (arts. 60-79 of the Swiss Civil Code) does not require approval from public authorities in order to operate in Switzerland. Associations acquire legal personality as soon as their intention to exist as a corporate body is apparent from their articles of association. No registration is required under Swiss law.

Registration with the Commercial registry is not mandatory except for associations that conduct a commercial operation in pursuit of their objects, or, are subjects to an audit requirement (article 69b of the Civil Code). Registration with the Commercial registry does not imply the acquisition of legal personality.

Associations present in Switzerland must, at all times, act in accordance with Swiss law.

Foundations

The constitution of a foundation (arts. 80-89 of the Swiss Civil Code) requires registration with the Commercial registry. By this registration, the foundation acquires the legal personality. Family and religious foundations are exempt from this requirement and are not subject to administrative supervision.

For more information, please consult the website of the Federal Supervisory Board for foundations.

Foundations present in Switzerland must, at all times, act in accordance with Swiss law.

Representative offices

The representative office of a foreign-based NGO in Switzerland does not require approval from public authorities in order to operate in Switzerland. A representative office cannot register with the Commercial registry.

Representative offices present in Switzerland must, at all times, act in accordance with Swiss law.


NGO Service databaseThe NGO Service records international NGOs with headquarters or a representative office in the Canton of Geneva who fulfil the following cumulative conditions:

  • is non-profit.
  • has regular and concrete activities in the Canton of Geneva.
  • has a street address (a post office box alone is insufficient) in Canton of Geneva.
  • operates in at least one of the following fields: (1) Environment and sustainable development, (2) Health, (3) Humanitarian Law & Action, Human Rights, Migration, (4) Labour, Economic Affairs, Trade, Science & Telecommunication, (5) Peace, Security and Disarmament.
  • collaborates with an international organization (consultative status or proven collaboration).
  • operates in at least two countries.
  • does not undertake religious or political advocacy.

Inclusion

The inclusion of an entity in the NGO Service database is free of charge and requires the transmission* of the following documentation:

  • Copy of the signed Statutes;
  • Signed minutes of last General Assembly and/or constituent General Assembly;
  • List of members of the committee (if not given in the minutes);
  • Last activity report (or, if the association has just been created, a detailed description of the association, its aims and projects);
  • Last audited financial report (or, if the association has just been created, a provisional budget).

*Documents may be sent electronically to ong.cagi@etat.ge.ch or by post at the following address: Service ONG, CAGI, La Pastorale, Route de Ferney 106, 1202 Genève

Services

The inclusion of an entity in the NGO Service database is purely informal and does not lead to any official recognition. However, the transmission of a complete, up-to-date and validated profile is a prerequisite to access the advice and other services offered by the NGO Service.

Updating Profile

In order to keep their profile updated, NGOs are asked to transmit their activity report, financial report and minutes of the last General Assembly on a yearly basis.